Bay windows are a beautiful design element in a home, often native to the bay area and a big part of San Francisco interior design. They add a little extra character, square footage, and natural light to your space. But over the years, we’ve had a ton of customers struggle to design their bay window areas. In fact, sometimes, rather than a lovely architectural element, they feel more like awkward nooks. But take heart—they’re easier to design than you may think, and this is not a design element you should just ignore! There are so many great ways to play up this beautiful feature in your home and add a little extra charm to your space!
Today, we’re going to address some common bay window interior design questions, along with some examples of bay window ideas to show you how to bring these spaces to life!
What is a bay window?
First things first—let’s define our terms. A bay window is a window space (generally made up of a trio of windows, but sometimes more) that projects outward and angles beyond the main walls of a room. This creates a “bay” in the room. These are also sometimes referred to as picture windows.
Fun fact: Rooms with four to six connected windows that form more of a curve than angles are called bow windows rather than bay windows, but overall they’re fairly similar architectural details.
What should I put in my bay window?
There are no hard and fast rules about what you should put in a bay window. But you do have a couple of main choices! A bay window can be left free of furniture and to keep the views bright and open and celebrate the natural light pouring in. But they can also be furnished—perhaps with an accent chair and side table—to maximize your space. Some bay windows have built-in window seats or banquettes; and even if they don’t, you can fairly easily build those in. Bay windows also look beautiful framed in with window treatments.
How do you decorate a room with a bay window?
When it comes to decorating a room with bay windows, don’t just ignore them because you don’t know what to do. When designing these spaces, you want the bay window to be incorporated in the layout and design of the room—or at least be spatially considered.
If accented correctly, a bay window can be an architectural marvel in any space. You could do something simple, like using wallpaper or paint to accent the nook, or put a piece of furniture you want to highlight in the bay. We’ll get more into the specifics later in this blog, but just know that bay window decorating ideas don’t have to be complex. We’re big on “simple but impactful” when it comes to bay window design.
What is the best window covering for a bay window?
Speaking of window treatments—what window coverings you use in a bay window is really up to you! However, the architecture of your specific bay window may dictate how to choose curtains that are suitable for your space. How deep the bay windows go and if there’s a built-in window seat in the window nook do impact your choices.
No Window Treatment
You can leave your bay windows wide open, without window coverings, if the space allows for it; this maximizes the natural light and view, if the window offers a good one. This is a great choice if you don’t need to control the amount of natural light coming in throughout the day and if you don’t need privacy in the room the bay windows are in.
Curtains, Roman Shades, or Blinds
For a more formal look, to have light control, or if you need privacy, you can add drapes, sheers, Roman shades, or blinds to your bay windows. You can even layer two of them! Layering blinds with curtains adds texture and depth, and it can help with insulation from weather.
If your bay window has a built-in window seat, you may want to skip the curtains, as these can look funny or get in the way of the little window nook. But if you absolutely love the look of curtains, you can do it—you’ll just want the curtains to end at the seat, so you’ll probably have to get them hemmed or custom-made.
Ready to see some bay window ideas in action? Whether you’re looking for living room design ideas or inspiration for a bay window in your bedroom, dining room, or kitchen, we’ve rounded up a ton of ways you can utilize these charming window nooks.
Keep reading for 22 bay window decorating ideas!
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1. A Bar Cart Lounge Area in a Bay Window
If your bay window is off of a living or dining room, it’s a great place to house a bar cart and club chair! Use this window nook to mix a drink and then kick back and enjoy this classy place to relax.
2. Seating Nook in Bedroom
We love the idea of utilizing a bay window in a bedroom for a cute seating nook. Depending on how large it is, you can add one or two chairs, along with a side table and lamp to fill it out and add an extra touch of practicality.
3. A Bay Window Breakfast Nook
A bay window in a kitchen is the perfect place to set up a cute breakfast nook. You could create built-in banquettes or benches, or simply add a freestanding bench. A round table makes the most sense for a rounded bay window to help you fully utilize the space.
4. A Casual Bay Window Reading Lounge
Bay window nook designs don’t have to be formal—in fact, tuck a floor sofa in your window nook and you have a great casual place to lounge! This is a great design approach if you have teenagers. The floor sofa feels laid back, creating a cool lounge area that’s flooded with natural light.
5. A Window Seating Nook with Plants
This built-in window seat is perfect for reading or lounging near the window and soaking up the natural light. Hanging some plants and layering in some other leafy floor plants is a great way to make this nook even more inviting. Plus, the plants will thrive in the light from the windows!
6. A Dining Room with a Bay Window
A large bay window in a dining room can easily house a large dining table. You could have chairs around the full table or, as we did here, place a bench on the side of the table closest to the window to keep the views unobstructed.
7. A Console Tucked into a Bay Window Nook
You can have a bay window seating area without tucking the chairs fully into the window nook. We like the idea of floating a pair of chairs away from the bay window but leaving a console in the window nook. This adds visual depth to your conversation area. Adding lamps or candles to the top of the console is a nice touch, making the view from outside extra cozy.
8. A Kids Homework Space in a Window Nook
This type of window nook is a great place for kids to work on homework, do homeschooling activities, or even work on crafts. A small desk fits perfectly in this space and creates a little ‘room’ without being closed off.
9. A Sofa in a Bay Window
With a bay window in the living room, you can use every inch of the space by putting the sofa in the bay. It can make the space feel more open because the sofa is tucked into the bay, giving you a little extra square footage in your space for a more robust seating area.
10. A Sofa in Front of a Bay Window
If you have a bay window in your living room but your sofa is too long to tuck into the window nook, you can simply have the back of the sofa to the bay window. The window offers a nice frame for your sofa, without the furniture setup feeling cramped, and makes a pretty backdrop for this main piece of living room furniture.
11. An Executive-Style Bay Window
Like the idea of working with a view? The floating desk sits centered in front of the windows, making the view out of the bay window the focal point in this design. Contrasting drapes on the outer windows frame in the view.
12. A Bed in a Bay Window
Have a bay window or window nook in your bedroom? Skip a headboard and use your windows as a pseudo-headboard! Situating your bed in the bay will saturate your bed in natural light each morning while creating a cozy nook that frames in the bed.
13. A Window Nook Workout Zone
This window nook is the perfect size for workout equipment, giving you a dedicated space for home workouts. You can either keep your equipment contained to the nook itself, or spill out into the adjoining room a bit to give yourself more space to stretch out. Either way, it creates a nice space to have as a zoned exercise area.
14. A Window Nook Play Area for Kids
Bay window nooks like this can be a tight squeeze for furniture—but they’re great for kids stuff, since kids furniture is scaled down! This type of space can contain kids toys and give them their own little ‘room’ to play in.
15. A Bay Window Seating Nook to Take in the Views
Don’t want to waste the views out your bay windows by having your sofa face away from them? If you have a large enough living room, push your sofa more toward the center of the room. Then add some seating that backs up to your sofa and looks out toward the view. While a bit of a nontraditional layout, this setup takes advantage of the views while still giving your a robust seating area in the main part of the living room.
16. A Bench in a Bay Window
A small upholstered bench fits in this smaller bay window. The addition of a pillow and sheepskin rug makes it a cozy reading nook. Simply add a bookcase nearby for a place to store a lamp and books for reading.
17. A Bay Window Piano Space
Grand Pianos are just that—grand. And they deserve to have a special place in the spotlight. With their curved backs, it makes sense to nestle them in a large bay window, not only making great use of the space but creating a lovely music area.
18. A Bay Window With a Hanging Chair
Hanging chair in a bay adds a carefree and casual hangout/seating area in your home. Pair it with a pouf, plant, and geometric rug to play up the boho vibes and complete the look. It makes a great place to soak up some sunshine while curling up with a good book.
19. A Bedroom Bay Window “Dressing Room”
Adding a chaise lounge and a full-length floor mirror in your bedroom creates some fancy dressing room vibes. This is a great option for large bedrooms or spaces off a bedroom that have open bay windows.
20. A Bay Window Greenhouse
Want to transform a corner of your home into a conservatory full of plants? Use your bay window nook as a makeshift greenhouse for houseplants that need plenty of light. Add a humidifier to the corner to keep those tropical plants happy!
21. An In-Kitchen Bay Window Dining Nook
If you have a bay window in your kitchen but don’t have room for a full breakfast nook, consider creating a mini breakfast spot, with just a bistro table and pair of chairs. It’s a great place for enjoying coffee and a light breakfast—perfect for a small eat-in kitchen area.
22. A Bay Window Painting Nook
Do you have artistic inclinations? Set up an easel looking out your window and get inspired by the views. To keep your paint and supplies nearby, set them up in a bar cart, which can be moved around as needed (and hey, maybe keep a bottle of wine and wine glass stocked on the cart as well!).
Want some help bringing your bay window design to life?